A Travellerspoint blog

Greetings from Sidari, Corfu

sunny 28 °C

Hey all! I know this blog has been dead, but don't worry I'll soon be back to posting as usual. I've been in Sidari, Corfu for the last week soaking up the sun and relaxing by the pool. BUT the internet here is ridiculously expensive, so I've been sort of 'blogging' on my notepad on my comp, and will post it as soon as I get to Athens and have use of some free wifi again! Talk soon!

Posted by kvandervegan 01:21 Archived in Greece Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

Budapest and Trip Part Two

overcast 20 °C

Budapest is a crazy city. The language is crazy, the people are crazy. When they don't speak English they DON'T want to help you, but when they do they are so friendly! Yesterday I went out exploring the city on the Buda side- the more historic side. Pretty much everything just looked older, not all that much to see I found. Finally found a grocery store though so that was nice. I really appreciate Canadian grocery stores, now that I've seen the Eastern-European ones. There's not much in them, and you can't even find everything you need in a supermarket, let alone a normal sized grocery store. And the normal ones are about as big as our Chevron's... crazy. My hostel is right downtown, literally next to St. George's basilica, so I went in there. It was beautiful! Very colourfuly decorated which was a nice change from all the beige that's normally in churches and cathedrals. I'd put pictures up but they wouldn't upload! I got a few from Berlin on though, so check those out at the bottom.
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Today I got up and skyped with Matt and Kristin (wooot!) was SO nice to hear from them! It's been a while since we've chatted, like, since I left Revy! Love you guys :)

I then went out to the turkish baths, from which I expected a relaxing time... and it was relaxing once I finally got in! The baths were huge, and the menu wasn't in English, and the counter girls didn't speak English either, so I tried using hand-gestures to indicate that I needed a towel. "Inside. Inside towel. Rent." The only room to change in is a little side room right out in the open in front of all the other women! Can I get a Ravensong, old-lady flashback circa '98? Anybody remember those school trips where the old ladies just changed, right there? Ya, I am now that lady, changing in front of everyone. Eeek.. Then I go to rent a towel, and I only brought 300 HUN because that's what the lady said it was for a small towel (around 2 CAD) and I thought that's all I'd need... well a "small towel" to the Hungarians is apparently a very large bedsheet! The lady hands it to me and I was like, "How do you figure I'm supposed to dry myself off with this?!" And she's like, "You can get big towel for 600," Holding up a fairly small-sized beach towel. I was like whatever... and took the sheet with me. The bath's were beautiful though, but there were a TON of old men staring at me which was really creepy until I realized they were just checking out my tattoo lol. There aren't that many tattooed people around, so it wasn't that creepy afterall. I didn't stay too long as all the warm water was making me sleepy, but it was really relaxing.
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I then walked around Pest, checking out a few memorials and statues and such, and then went searching for this vegan restaurant that I found on HappyCow that apparently has the best vegan pizza in Europe, and they don't lie. It was unreal, and the "cheese" was even melted! Yum! I also had a salad with a vegan creamy blue-cheese dressing. Ohhhhh ya.
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I forgot my map at the restaurant, and of course got lost trying to find the metro. Every corner store pointed me in a different direction, which was so not cool, but it's a good thing "metro" is the same in Hungarian, or else I would have been really screwed. Finally found my way home though!

I'm now sitting in my cute little hostel in Budapest, shaking with excitement as tomorrow I fly to CORFU. Yep, I have 10 nights booked in this tiny little hostel, in basically my own room (2-bed, but apparently they try to put you by yourself), where the beach is an 8-minute walk away, Sidari city is 20 minutes walk, and a little village is 10. I can't wait! I plan on running every morning and night (setting the bar HIGH people), eating fresh greek salad and hummas every meal, and drinking plenty of wine and coolers on the beach all day... so on second though there most likely will not be an evening run happening, but still! There won't be internet I don't think, so I'll probably only be able to get on a couple times while I'm out there, but I'm freaking stoked. Then, on the 22nd, I fly back to Athens and meet my mom and Krystal at the airport! They get in just over 2 hours after me so it's perfect. Can't wait to have some travel buddies! Ones that I can boss around too :) Just kidding ladies... mostly! But it will be fun. I've had the time of my life, literally, travelling solo, seeing new places, meeting new people, meeting AMAZING people, and experiencing new things, but I'm ready to start sharing my experiences with someone! Ready to have someone to share bottles of wine with, and take pictures of me! Haha. Part 1 of my trip has been awesome, and Part 2's got big shoes to fill, but I think it'll do just fine :)

Oh! And here are some pics from Berlin, sorry about the lack of photos but it's frustrating for me too when they won't upload!

Brangenburg Gate, famous historical site in Berlin
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The holocaust memorial, once you walk in it gets colder and quiter, very well done in my opinion.
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Showing how tall it gets once you're inside
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Standing in 2 places at once! Standing over the line that marks where the Berlin wall used to seperate East and West Germany
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Entering in Sachsenhausen concentration camp was this sign, it says, "Work will set you free"
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The neutral zone, where you were shot if you entered. It leads to many other obstacles like barbed wire, dogs, and hugh walls so you can't escape. If you stepped foot into the neutral zone, you were shot by guards who got extra pay and rations if they got a shot in, so often guards would throw a prisoner's hat into the neutral zone and demand that they get it so that they would have to be shot. Sick.
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And on a differrent note... a very excited 'walk' man!
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Posted by kvandervegan 08:54 Archived in Hungary Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Day 70 - Wien

sunny 24 °C

Wow! 70 days have gone by, and I don't think I've ever been this exhausted or exhilerated in my life. I'm in Vienna, after a 5 hour train ride from Prague, and doing laundry to wash the old man off my towel (yuck!). I wandered around a teeny bit of Vienna today, and it's really beautiful, but I'm afraid it's just gonna be a pit stop for me this time. I thought I'd go sight seeing tomorrow and leave my pack with my hostel, but I have really annoying blisters on my feet, my back is killing me, I've been dealing with a massive headache for over a week now (I get it everytime I wake up, and around 4 in the afternoon, wtf?) and I can't be bothered to explore the city. At this point I'd much rather settle in Budapest for 3 nights, get the most out of that city, and leave Austria for another trip. Sad, but that's life! At least it's sunny here, and only get sunnier in Budapest and then Greece!
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Posted by kvandervegan 10:20 Archived in Austria Tagged train_travel Comments (1)

Pretty Prague

sunny 25 °C

Prague has been pretty good, and I’m a little sad to be leaving tomorrow! Tonight will be my last of 5 nights, and I feel so comfortable and settled here! Oh well, on to different things I guess!

I’ve been pretty chilled out overall in Prague, and it’s felt awesome. I went on a walking tour a couple of days ago and learnt about the city, met a cool welsh guy, and a really weird French guy, who was traveling solo as well. I was also approached earlier that day by a random guy from the states, asking me where the shopping mall was. Surprisingly, I didn’t know, as I’ve yet to find it as well and have just been shopping in the streets. After I said I didn’t know, he was like, “Oh! You speak English!” I was like ya, pretty sure everyone here does… and he started on this random story about how he went to Vancouver and thought it was beautiful and now wants to shop in Prague, and I was like ya Vancouver is cool, he was like, “Oh, have you been there?” I was like ya I live in BC, and he was like, “You’re SOOOOO lucky!” I was like ya… ok overly-nice creepy guy needs to peace out, as I was getting closer to my hostel and didn’t want him to see me get to my hostel! Right after he finishes his rant about Vancouver he’s like, “Wanna have coffee with me?” I was like nope! I’ve got somewhere to be, with my friends, who are back at my hostel.” YES. I did it, I lied to a stranger!! This has been really hard for me to do, but I guess I can do it well under pressure. Shopping mall guy takes the hint and peaces, without first telling me his name, because I’ll of course need that in the future (??). I’ve forgotten it already!
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After the walking tour my room was full of 5 English guys, who I got the pleasure of listening to all night. No really, I loved it! Makes me want to go back, just for the accents. It’s something about their choice of words and the way they, like, flow their sentences, I just loooove it. My future husband should definitely have an accent.

Today I got up with a sore throat, puffy eyes, and a pounding headache, even though I’d had plenty of sleep. I made my way down to a veggie café for lunch, buying a super cute top on the way (the cure for all ailments) and had a really yummy, healthy, sort of Mexican lunch. After that I joined in on the Prague castle tour, and met a bunch of other solo travelers, and had an awesome tour. Got to see great views of the city as well. Our tour guide was hilarious. She’d go off onto these random tangents about stuff it was so funny. Wore the wrong shoes for the tour though and have mega blisters to deal with for the next couple of days. I met 2 other Aussie guys, traveling separately, who both seemed really cool, until the end when the three of us were walking back towards the main square where our hostels were, and the one guy starts talking about how cheap coke is in Prague, and I was like, “Coke?“ thinking Coca-Cola, as the prices of it does fluctuate quite a lot throughout Europe, and he was like, “Ya, cocaine.” Like it was no big deal. I was like, shit, who is this guy? And he had clearly bought some because the end of his story was how the dealer was telling him to tell all of his other Aussie friends to come and buy from him too. Strange, he seemed so nice! The other Aussie just kind of agreed, and then talked about taking it back to Aus and selling it for what it’s worth there, and I was like well, my hostels that way so… see you!
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I get back into my room and read my addicting book for a bit, and the 5 English guys, lads if you will, were in there so we were chatting, then an older English guy (who just got in today) comes in and grabs his bag and heads out. I kept reading and was chatting with the English boys. I got up and changed and did a bunch of things around the hostel and I was just about to go to the café where I’ve been getting the wifi when I notice that my towel is gone. I always hang it in the same spot, so I figured maybe the maids thought someone left it behind and took it to the front desk. I checked, and they said that the laundry would be back tomorrow around mid-day. I said that could work, I’d just take a later train to Vienna, but she gave me another clean travel towel that someone else had left behind, and said if I wanted to take it I could, so I said thanks. I go back to my room, and there’s my towel hanging back on the bunk! I was like, “What the hell!” And all the guys looked at me like I was crazy (I was pretty loud), and I was like where’d it come from? And they kind of looked from me to the old guy, who’d clearly just had a shower. I asked the old guy, “Is that yours?” He was like, “Ya…?” And I was like, “NO it’s not! It’s mine!” He was like, “Oh, I just assumed it was mine because it was hanging there.” Like SO nonchalantly, and I was like, “No that’s mine! That’s my towel.” He said back, “Oh, well I won’t be using it anymore, I leave tomorrow so you can have it back now.” I was like NO SHIT IT’S MINE!! No, I didn’t say that but I did say, “Um, ya I would think so! Seeing as how it’s mine!” And then I looked over at all the guys and they just shrugged and looked at me like, oh ya lol. Cool! Good times in hostels, good times. My final words were, “I’m going to get a drink.” And the guys laughed, and I hope the guy realizes what he did because he didn’t even say sorry once! If he’d have been like, “Shit! Sorry I didn’t realize!” I would have been semi-okay, but he didn’t even think he did wrong! Anyways, weird. I returned the loaner towel to the front desk lady, who was confused as I was just there, and told her where my towel had been and she’s like, “Ooooh, that’s weird.” I was like TOTALLY. Too funny, makes a good story I guess looking back now. Except that I have to go out of my way tomorrow to find myself a laundromat to wash my stuff! In Vienna, a town I don’t know yet! Great, should be a fun adventure. Anyways sorry about the absence of pictures again, there has been no good wifi around; all the signals are low and it would take hours to upload just a few pictures, but once I get some good stuff then I’ll put them all up for sure. Off to Vienna tomorrow, Budapest next, then the sunny beaches of Greece for a mini-vacation!

Posted by kvandervegan 11:34 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Berlin and Prague: Day 1 From Hell

rain 15 °C

Berling was such an amazing city. Unfortunately, travelling got me again, and I was feeling a bit queasy on my last full day there. I didn't get out of the hostel till around 1, and I decided to go see the east side gallery, which was a huge part of the wall that they paint over every year and let artists paint a new section. A lot of the wall was still white, but the sections I saw were good. Next I went to a giant Humana second hand store, found myself a cute dress! This makes for an even worse time closing my bag (I literally DREAD having to pack, because it's hit-or-miss weather it will close or not!). I had dinner and went to bed early, trying to avoid getting run down again!

So yesterday is travel day, and I head off to Prague without a hitch. I'm reading Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth," so I was stoked to get almost 5 hours to read it. The train ride was really uncomfortable, but the scenery going through the Czech Republic was awesome. I had directions written down for my hostel, so I get out of the metro station and walk down Valentinesky, getting to the end and not finding Elinska Krasnohorske, where I'm supposed to turn left. It starts to POUR, and I figure I'll just duck into a store, ask where it is, and they'll help me. Well, no one knew the hostel, but they directed me down a whole nother set of streets to find this Elinska Krasnohorske. I walk down it in the pouring rain, with no luck of finding the hostel. Finally I found a rental car business, where a lady looked up the site and found the address, which said it was on that road, and the number. She called it and the owner, who could not speak English, told me what road it is (in Czech, which I couldn't understand... "It mean's spirit in English!" well that REALLY helps me lady!!) and told me it was in between the Spanish Synogogue and the Church. So the lady at the car place lead me down there, which was another 10 minutes away, and I went between the two buildings and couldn't bloody find it. At this point I'm soaked, pissed off, and ready to just sit down and cry! It had been over an hour of searching now, and I was not happy.

I go into a clothing store and asked to use their phone and called this woman again. She is like, "Why you not see, there is sign! Go to sidewalk between Spanish Synogogue and zee Church!"I was like, "I DID and I can't find it!!" She was like, "Stand on corner of synogogue, and I will meet you," I was like, "Thanks!" So I'm waiting for 10 minutes, and I can't find the lady. A guy from a walking tour came up to me and told me everything was going to be alright lol, and he gave me a map with two recommended hostels in it, and a bar crawl flyer for later, I was like thanks I may need that! After all this the woman still hadn't found me, so I found a cop and I was like, "Can you call this number and talk to this woman for me and find me my hostel?!" He was like um, no? But he knew the hostel and walked me to it: It was a plain building with the door set farther in with a tapes up paper sign saying "Hostel Center". NO WONDER I COULDN'T FIND IT!! How do you expect anyone to find that? And He told me if I was staying there to be careful because there had been reports that the owners stole from the guests, I was like, "There's NO WAY I'm staying here!" So I rang the doorbell and this bitty czech woman came out and was like, "You called me I was looking for you," I was like whatever! She told me things like, "You don't know Prague so I will tell you what to do and I will give you map- I am here to help you." I was like whatever woman, I'm not staying here! The internet didn't work, the kitchen was in HER living space, and I was just creeped out. I dropped my bag and took my valuables, walked to one of the recommended hostels and they had room for 5 nights for me, walked back, paid for one night and peaced out of there so fast! Grrrrrrr! There are days when you just wish you don't have to deal with this crap, but you do, and you move on! My hostel now is AMAZING and I've met a ton of people so far!

After I checked in, I went to the grocery store to get some dinner and stuff for the next few days, and my bill came to like 490.00 kc's! It's so weird trying to deal with this currency. It's really hard to convert in your head, and it feels very strange handing someone 300 crowns and then getting a coin back in change! I guess its about 1 euro to 25 crowns so that's a bit easier? Weird. Like my strongbow last night was 100 crowns. Crazy!

I decided to go on the pub crawl last night, and I ended up seeing the guy who came up to me yesterday when I was lost, so I thanked him. I was walking along with the mass crowd to the first bar, and I looked beside me and saw Sarah, who I met in Bruges! She wasn't feeling well, and we didn't get to chat all that much, but it was nice to see a familiar face! I met some really cool people from California and a couple of Aussie guys and overall had a fantastic evening, to top off a crazy day.

Today, I didn't get much done. I woke up late, went for a very intense thai foot massage. I say intense as in I think she ripped my muscles off of my calves, but it felt good-ish afterwards. My feet needed it, and it was cheap. Not so much relaxing, but good. Then I went (wait for it....) shopping, and couldn't resist buying a top, even though my bank account is startlingly low and my pack no longer closes! You only live once, right?

I met a guy while cooking dinner, Larry. The opening line was, "Hey, are you the vegesaurus?" haha I was like, "Am I the what now?" But I wore my veggie pj shirt to breakfast and he's a veg too so he took notice. We chatted and now were having soy chai lattes. Fun!

Posted by kvandervegan 11:12 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged backpacking Comments (5)

A Visit with an Old Friend and Berlin City!

sunny 29 °C

Wow, neglecting this thing once more! And thanks to my mother for pointing it out, the pressure's on to get a new post out! And unfortunately, due to a slow wifi connection, no pics on this one even though I've got some good ones! :(

I spent Friday and Saturday with Max in Erlangen, near Nuremberg, in Bavaria, Germany. We had a blast! He picked me up from the station, we quickly caught up on the last 5 years, and bam! We get along great. And with the mention of wanting to become a veg, we were BFF in a matter of hours. Friday night we rented a movie in English, made a stir fry for dinner, had some wine, and chatted. Max even helped me buy semi-permanent hair colour so I could give my do a little refresher. So Saturday morning when Max went to work, I had the luxury of an empty house (one I haven't had in over 2 months! It's crazy the things you take for granted at home, like privacy!), so I died my hair and hung out all morning until Max got off at one. We then went into Erlangen, got some dinner stuff, returned the movie, and got me an English book (The Pillars of the Earth, so far very good!) We made vegan pizza and a yummy salad, and drank more wine and chatted about the world and all it's problems, it was great! Took it easy again; Max was tired from the night before, and I couldn't be bothered either, so we called it off with his friends and just relaxed again. We even got to puppy-sit for his mom while she was at the neighbour's pre-wedding party; Afrau and Paule were two very loving German Short-hairs, who were freaking adorable. It's funny though, you feel REALLY dumb when even the dog doesn't understand you. I'm trying to tell them to sit or lay down, but they're German too and have no idea what I'm saying! I realized that and had a good laugh lol. The party was next door, and everyone in the neighbourhood couold come and eat, drink, and break old plates on the sidewalk. No kidding, we heard them all night! But it's a German tradition, and it was cool to watch through the window.

On Sunday, before dropping me off at the station, we went to Max's Grandmother's house to play with the dogs once more, then I was off on my way to Berlin. The journey was pretty long, but I'm getting used to travelling long distances, and the second train I had I shared a cabin with a really nice Austrian lady and a very finatic German guy who insisted he tell me everything I should see in Europe. Was a good source of info, that's for sure! Got into Berlin late and was exhausted, so I chatted with my really cool dormmates and we all had an early night.

Yesterday was my first full day in Berlin, and of course I went on the free walking tour. I was a little disapointed in the guide I got, but it was a good tour nonetheless. We started out in the Pariser platz, and saw the Brandenburg Gate, and the hotel that MJ dangeled his baby out of. We learned a TON of history during the tour, saw the remaining part of the Berlin Wall, saw Hitler's Bunker (now a car park, but we were literally standing over the place where he killed himself), walked through the Jewish memorial, which was quite moving, saw the memorial to the burnt books, which was quite eerie. It was plexi glass in the pavement, where you look down into quite a big white library full of empty shelves. Gave me shivers! Good tour. Met two really nice Aussies, Sarah and Victoria on it as well. The only part that made me mad was when our tour guide was talking about Hitler, saying he was vegetarian, and that no one that clean-living should be trusted! I was like, there goes half of your tip! I just about said something, but I didn't want to draw attention to myself; it doesn't sound that bad now, but it was harsh at the time! After the tour I went window shopping, and then headed back to the hostel and once again chatted with my dormmates for the rest of the night.

Today I met up with Sarah, her friend Nicole, and a fellow Canadian Elise on the non-profit tour of Sachsenhausen, the concentration camp half an hour outside of Berlin. It was a heavy day, but I learnt a ton, and I think it's important that these places are preserved and that tours go there to teach about what the people had to go through during this sick time. It was eye-opening and amazing. I'm not going to write a lot about it, because it was really sad and gruesome, but I did learn a few things. I learned that there were more gypsies killed in the holocaust than there were jews, and there were other groups of people who we don't hear about, that makes it all the more sad and disgusting. Also, I learned about so many companies who contributed to the holocaust, and how they used the prisoners for their own slave labour. It was something else to walk through the same gates, the same houses, and the same concrete fields that all those people did just 70 years ago. Something else.

After that everyone was in a bit of a mood, so we all dispersed and had naps at our hostels! It was a hot, hot day and a mentally exhausting one as well. I had dinner at a yummy vegan cafe, and now here I am finally updating this blog!

Posted by kvandervegan 13:12 Archived in Germany Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Cologne

sunny 26 °C

View_from_..factory.jpgCologne has been really fun! I got in on Wednesday, set up camp in the room and met Gabrielle, from Quebec. We set out exploring the city, took some photos... including one of the resons why I love Cologne:
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...got some Starbucks (it had been a while!) and then attempted to get dinner. Ordering vegan in Germany is proving quite difficult! Especially with the language barrier; even though the majority of people speak English, it’s still difficult. I couldn’t even order a side of fries at the place we had dinner because they just didn’t do that! So Gabrielle got dinner there and I just had a few beers and went to the supermarket afterwards. It’s all good, but I have a feeling I won’t even want to try to order food in the next couple of countries! Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary? Good luck!
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Later on Thursday night, Gabrielle and I went out hunting trying to find some different beers to try. It’s weird because every restaurant or pub has one kind, and they serve it to you in these skinny, tall glasses and it’s usually anywhere from 1-2 euros for one. Like we asked the first place what they recommended, and they were like, “Uh, Fruh! It’s all we have!“ So we hopped around a few different pubs tasting different beers, until we found the beer museum, which was just a pub, but it had lots of different beers! I had a cherry beer and a really, REALLY yummy grapefruit beer. Very fun!

I think I’m on a bad streak of hostel mates… We got back to the hostel to go to sleep, and one girl was already asleep and two Belgian girls were in the beds across from us yapping excitedly in French. Well, they continued to do so for at least half an hour while all the lights were off and 3 of us were trying to sleep. It was really bad! Like it wasn’t even whispering, which is equally annoying, but they were having full conversations at midnight, in the dark! I was like, take your conversation into the hall or the common room or something! Finally the girl next to me told them in basic French to be quiet, and they mostly were after that… until we were all awake at 5:30 am to them getting ready! They get out their flashlights and proceed to do their makeup and straighten their hair in the room. Like, use the bathroom or something?! I “shushed” them twice and they were whispering loudly and rattling around and stuff, like I would never do that. They opened all the windows and the girl next to me like got up and shut them right in front of these girls. It was pretty ridiculous. Gabrielle told me in the morning (because she could understand what they were chatting about) that they were going to line up for a concert at 6 am and were talking about it and all excited. I guess they were really young girls who obviously had no common sense or consideration for others! I wanted to be like, in a hotel you can do that and talk in the dark and whatever, but you’re in a hostel with other people sleeping! Like go out of the room! That’s what the common rooms are for, and they have bathrooms for getting ready in.. gaaaa! So frustrating only because I would never do that. And there’s a certain level of respect and consideration in a hostel that these girls just didn’t understand. They did the same thing this morning at 6:30, opening all the curtains and letting all the light into the room and talking and whispering for about half an hour while they got ready, probably for an early train. I had to get up and close the curtains like, have some respect! I could go on but I’m probably boring you to death!

Yesterday I got up and ready and Gabrielle and I climbed the 509 steps (or something) to the top of the Dom Cathedral. It wasn’t even that bad of a time going up, but we got great views of the city. Going down made us a little dizzy, but it was fun. Calves are a wee bit sore today, though!
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We had a really good lunch at a Thai place, really cheap, and really good and vegan! Finally! Then we said goodbye as she had a train to catch to continue on with her trip, and I made my way to the chocolate museum! Seeing as how I missed, like, 3 along my journey so far I thought I’d better do it, and it was really fun! You learn about the history or the cocoa bean, and then you go into a mini Lindt factory and watch them make chocolate! The whole place smelled SOOO good, and I definitely got myself a souvenir afterwards!
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I then continued to wander around the city, made dinner, and met Cameron, a really nice guy from Aus on a 2 year (!!!) round-the-world trip, so we had lots to talk about. We went out and had some beers and chatted, it was really good.

Today I’m off to Nuremberg to stay with Max for 2 nights; he says he’s got plans with his friends tomorrow night in town so that should be fun!

Posted by kvandervegan 02:07 Archived in Germany Tagged tourist_sites Comments (4)

I Hate Bikes, Officially

rain 15 °C

Today got off to a grand start. I walked into Dam square and rented a bike so I could make my way to the sort of southern part of Amsterdam that I hadn’t seen yet. It was pouring rain, but that didn’t stop me, and I found the Heineken Brewery, my first stop, without a problem. The Heineken Experience was awesome! I figured it would be just like the Guinness tour, it was the same price, but it was ten times better. There were actually people throughout the tour who talked to you and did demonstrations and answered your questions. One up on Guinness right there! It went through the history of Heineken, all the brewing stages (we even got to taste a sample of one of the stages the beer goes through called wort; it was really sweet and weird!) Then we went into like a motion room where we were brewed! Haha, it was cool though, we got splashed with water and tumbled around and stuff and got to see the process from the inside out. Then we learned how to taste the beer, saw old commercials and propaganda, and finally got to the bar at the end. Unlike Guinness, you get 2 free beers at the end, as well as a pretty generous half-pint in the middle of the tour. Very cool and I’m glad I went!
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After that I attempted to go to the Van Gogh museum, but the queue was huge and I couldn’t be bothered to wait in it. I then attempted to find Vondlepark, but took a wrong turn and ended up off my map in the pouring rain. After a couple of tries asking for directions, I finally got onto the right street when the chain fell off of my bike. Great. Two construction guys helped me fix it, and after about 15 minutes it was back to normal… for about 2 more streets when it fell off again!! So I’m pretty frustrated at this point, and I hopped on the tram to get myself back to the station when the tram guy starts yelling at me in Dutch to get my bike out of the tram. I had to ask people if he was talking to me, then I got off. I’ve seen tons of other people bring their bikes on in other cities! So I get off and ask a couple of people if I can take my bike on the bus, and they just stare at me. Didn’t even shake their heads or look away or tell me they couldn’t speak English. I even asked a group of girls around my age and they just stared! I was like, “THANKS.” So now I’m pissed, and completely back to hating Amsterdam and I tried to get a cab and he said he couldn’t take my bike, so I told him it was broken and asked him how I could get back to Dam Square and he said walk. So I freaking did, all the way back to Dam Square, half in tears, stopping for lunch on the way as it was 2 and I hadn’t eaten since 9 and I was starving and angry! These guys asked me to take their picture as I was locking up my bike and I was like, “NO I’m busy,” which now I feel badly about but that’s how frustrated I was. Especially since I had to walk this stupid bike through really busy streets where everyone walks super slow and doesn’t move out of your way, or just stops in the middle of the street to look at their maps. Cool! I was sooo tempted to ditch it in the canal, but all I could think about was how they had a copy of my visa as a deposit, and I think the charges would have been worse than this walk. Once I finally made it back to the bike place I explained what happened and they didn’t charge me for the rental so that was really nice of them, but I was still mad so I stormed back to my hostel and put on some mellow music and just laid down while I relaxed lol. I didn’t know I had this kind of temper!

Last night, plans with the 2 Amsterdammers that I met back in Revy didn't work out, so I had an early night yet again. Today I'm off to Cologne, Germany, and Friday I get to see Max in Nuremberg!!

Posted by kvandervegan 23:07 Archived in Netherlands Tagged bicycle Comments (2)

Amsterdammm

sunny 26 °C

Wow, neglecting the blog a little! Don’t worry I’m back on track, this one might just be a bit long..

On Saturday I got up early and went for a jog around the park in Rotterdam and the port, saw the swan bridge, etc. Felt good to be out and about so early! Had breakfast at the hostel (they had vegan nutella!!) and walked to the train station to do a day trip to Den Haag. Now, I’m not sure if it was the mood I was in or what, but I wasn’t all that into exploring and getting lost, so my trip was short. I didn’t even make it to the beach! But oh well, save it for another trip I guess.
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Yesterday I made my way to Amsterdam fairly seamlessly, and my hostel was a 5 minute walk from the station, which was awesome. I got into Amsterdam not feeling 100% (still) but determined to walk around and at least see a bit of the city that day. I couldn’t check in until after 3 and it was only 1 so I ditched my stuff and walked around. Little did I know my hostel is smack in the middle of the red-light district, so there were stoners and girls EVERYWHERE. Everyone in Amsterdam is high at around 1pm. I mean everyone! So that was a little disheartening as I knew I probably wouldn’t relate to half the people here, unless they came for Anne Frank and the Heineken tour. Cool. Anyways, walked around nonetheless, feeling relatively safe during the day, even though it’s one of the most dangerous streets in Europe! (Don’t be afraid parents, I’ll be fine.)

I went to Madame Tussauds, as I missed out on it in London, and this one was cheaper too. It was pretty good, definitely a good way to kill time anyways. Got to see some (wax) celebs! Haha.
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At around 4 I went back to my hostel to check in. WELL, I get to my room and could hardly make it across to my bed without stumbling on shoes, perfume, and girly crap. It was everywhere. I assumed either the girls who were there were living and working there and set up camp, or were just all together and didn’t care about their shit. I literally had to put my backpack on my bed and sleep with it because there was no where to put it. There were smokes and “mushroom truffle” wrappers and other misc. getting-high objects around the room, so I knew these girls were having their version of a good time. I wandered out again, finding dinner and taking pictures, then spent the rest of the night having a drink at the hostel and calling it in early.

4 am and the lights go on and a group of 7 40+ British/Scottish/Irish ladies stumble into the room and start singing various tunes they’d heard that night. They all sounded like they’ve been chain smoking since they were 3, and were obviously drunk/high/whatever. They didn’t even notice I was there until I rolled over 10 minutes later and were like, “Oh, sorry love, it’s just we’re all togetha an’ didn’t know we’d be sharing’ a room.” I was like, well you are so go to bed! They didn’t, and half an hour later while they were still singing away and chatting, one lady was like, “I must have a cigarette!” and I was not having it. Grumpy as hell, I grabbed my computer and headed out to the lobby to waste time while they went to bed and the room aired out. I went into the lobby and the guy was like, “Sorry you can’t be in here,” and I said, “Oh, sorry, it’s just the old ladies in my room are smoking and it bothers my throat,” knowing full well the reception guy said “NO smoking in the rooms as our smoke detectors are highly sensitive.” Needless to say they got in trouble, and I’m a major tattletale! When I went back into the room they apologized and said they were going to bed, which they did over an hour later after more singing and reminiscing about their evening. Awesome.

Today was much better though; I got up bright and early, trying my best not to wake those super considerate and respectful ladies, only slamming the door on my way out. I hope that gave them all a startle, but somehow I doubt it. They made me really angry! Anyways I walked over to the Anne Frank museum and even though it was only 9:30 am there was already a 15 minute queue. But the museum was really good, very simple and told Anne’s story quite well. You actually walk through the building that the Frank’s hid in during WWII, which was cool as I thought you would just see it from behind a glass wall. Very eye-opening; I can’t imagine what it will be like to see Auschwitz and Dachau.

I had passed a big shopping center on my way to the Anne Frank House, so I checked that out afterwards, which was a bit of a disappointment. But good in a way as I wasn’t tempted to buy anything!! I am learning, and the bank balance is a little startling, so I’m trying to smarten up on my little habit.

I then joined in on the NewAmsterdam free walking tour, which of course, was amazing! The tour guide was a bit perma-fried, but I guess that goes with the city. But he did take us through some cool spots in Amsterdam, and made me see it as much more than just a place for tourists to get high. Actually, I learned a lot about weed on the tour! I learned that most Dutch people hardly smoked the stuff, as it’s so readily available that they get bored quick. Also, even though the coffee shops are legal, they have tons of rules, like no smoking cigarettes in them (wtf?) and lots of little technicalities. Also, it’s legal for them to sell you weed, but it’s illegal for them to buy it off of anyone. So when asked where they get their stuff (because they can only legally grow very little of it) they say something along the lines of, “It magically appears on our backdoor every morning.” Haha, how messed up is that? But our tour guide explained about how much revenue it brings in, what with food consumption because of all the high tourists, how the government gets their taxes, and how millions of dollars are spared from law enforcement normally needed to patrol the use of weed in other countries, and it did make a lot of sense. Maybe something Canada should think about? Not that I’m all for it or anything!
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When I got back into my hostel I crossed my fingers and opened my door expecting the hurricane to still be there, and it was SPOTLESS! I actually went, “HAAAAWWWW” like the clouds had parted and the cleaning angels had come down and got rid of their mess, when I noticed two girls napping and promptly stopped! Haha, little embarrassing. Not too long after, 4 more girls came in and the other 2 woke up, and after telling them my horror story from the night before we realized we were all Canadians! Such a great turn-a-round. We all quickly made friends, and me and Julia and Amanda, the girls who were napping, went downstairs for a drink and then wandered around Amsterdam, including some of the red-light district, as the girls were leaving the next day for home and wanted to see as much as they could.
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Now I’m off to bed and going to see more of the town that I judged at first, but am letting it grow on me.

Posted by kvandervegan 13:34 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Rotterdam

semi-overcast 18 °C

So here's a photo from the Dutch game we played the other night..
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Doesn't really say much but it was really fun. Anyways yesterday Laura and I got up and ready for our day out in Rotterdam. We rented bikes from our hostel and biked around the city. I have the SOREST bum from biking but it was worth it, it was so much fun! The roads here are totally set up for biking, we always had our own lane and lights it's so cool! If only all cities were set up lik this, then everyone would bike around! First we went up the Euromast, which was basically just an expensive view. Then you go up in this sitting room and it spins you around and up the mast, so you see a lot. It made me a little dizzy lol, like it didn't spin that slow! But it was cool. Next we went to an art museum, which was something else. Remember how I don't get art? I REALLY don't get art. We first climbed this rope/net thing and watched these CRAZY weird movies that I swear are only for people who were high. So weird. Next there was a big like, jelly fish thing set up in a big room. I really don't get art. There were tons of well known artists though, like Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and a ton more that Laura went crazy over. I didn't get most of it, like there was a ton of Surrealism art that just was so weird, I just don't get it. Yesterday was a very espensive day, and this museum totally wasn't worth it to me, but it was amazing to Laura. Different people I guess!
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We had sushi for lunch, then we went to the Tropicana swimming center, which was basically an escape to the tropics in a pool, with waterslides and a 'waterbaan' and tunnels and heat lamps, it was cool but super expensive. We only stayed for just over an hour but it was fun.

Then we went to a huge health food store, and I got some stuff to make dinner, and I pretty much just relaxed after that. It was a fun day, but I just cannot bring myself to go out lately, what with the weed everywhere, cigarette smoke (when I JUST got my voice back!) etc. so I had a good night in and an awesome sleep. Off to Den Haag today!

Posted by kvandervegan 00:48 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

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